If you’re looking to incorporate Korean study into your daily pop culture consumption routine but have a hard time stomaching Korean soap operas, comic books might just be the answer. Because the story is told through dialogue, comics provide the perfect opportunity to observe Korean phrases in action. Also, the written medium always you to see precisely what is being said — something that is not possible when studying by watching Korean TV.
One caveat though: comic books are not as easy as you might expect. Perhaps because of its image as a favorite pastime of the youth, comic-book reading seems like a very accessible, elementary-level foray into the realm of the written word. You will soon realize, however, that Korean comic books are no joke indeed. One can find all manner of phrases in the pages of a comic book: everything from Chinese-derived proverbs to street Korean. The good thing about comics though, is that the amount of dialogue per page is limited. That means that you can still indulge in a satisfying page turn every few minutes. Literature or newspaper articles on the other hand, can easily turn into a super slog-fest that sees you turning a page every half hour or even worse, depending on the content.
My recommendation with reading-comprehension work in general would be to try to adhere to a rule of only looking up one word every two pages. If you let yourself run wild with the dictionary, you’ll end up looking up so many words per page that you never make it through a book and you’ll soon lose interest. The important thing with any study method is continuing on, even when the going gets tough. Do yourself a favor and keep your feet to the fire. You can always come back and re-read the book in a few months anyway.
I always jot down every new word or phrase I come across. In the beginning stages of Korean, however, every phrase I encountered was new to me. I often got bogged down trying to make a record of every verbal curiosity. To arrest your slip into the morass of insatiable vocabulary avarice, triage your note-taking. Impose limits on how much you take down. The-more-the-better logic doesn’t pan out when you’re drowning in a vocabulary flood of your own making. You can only memorize a max of 20 or so new words per day, so make ‘em count. Just highlight the words you don’t know, and come back for them later.
Here are a few comic books I recommend:
The story of two high-schoolers trying to make it as professional comic book writers.
A homegrown martial-arts series.
The story of a boy on a quest to become Japan’s greatest sushi chef.